Mapping Dallas: 7 neighborhoods for food and fun

Dallas is big. With 2.6 million people in neighborhoods in Dallas County, sprawling some 350 square miles, dozens of pockets will delight you with food and fun. Here are seven neighborhoods in Dallas proper worth a visit, each offering a flavor that is uniquely Dallas.

It surely isn't an exhaustive list: Areas such as Greenville Avenue (known for its historic concert venue the Granada Theater) and the Park Cities boroughs (home to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and some of the grandest homes you've ever seen) didn't make this list. So by all means: Explore Dallas! It's big and beautiful. Here are seven spots to start.

Fair Park

Visitors arrive at the Hall of State in Fair Park during the Festival of Ideas, a yearly event.

The scene: The State Fair of Texas famously takes place inside Fair Park every fall. Its 277 acres are chock-full of significant examples of art deco architecture. Fair Park also houses the Music Hall, home to Dallas Summer Musicals; concert venue Dos Equis (formerly Starplex) Pavilion; the African American Museum; and Texas Discovery Gardens.

Hot spots: While Fair Park itself is the main event, check out Craft and Growler beer bar; Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters; and jazz club Sandaga 813.

Where: 1121 First Ave., Dallas.

Deep Ellum

St. Paul & The Bone Breakers fans Jansen Sharp (left) and Amie Pinratana (middle) react to one of the bands opening number during the concert at the Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum.

The scene: Known as a punk-rock epicenter in the '80s and '90s, Deep Ellum is still a gritty neighborhood with tons of bars and concert venues. But now it's home to dozens of new restaurants, too. Bring your camera to get photos with the colorful murals.

Hot spots: Music venues Trees and the Bomb Factory; barbecue spot Pecan Lodge and pizza joint Cane Rosso; dessert shop Emporium Pies; and bars Black Swan Saloon and Dot's Hop House and Cocktail Courtyard

Where: The center of Deep Ellum is near Elm and Crowdus streets.

White Rock Lake area

Eric Andrews and Shannon Andrews, of Lewisville, smile for a photo with a bed of tulips during the Dallas Blooms Festival at the Dallas Arboretum.

The scene: Lakewood and East Dallas are home to a bunch of, well, homes, so if you're traveling this way, you're likely headed to White Rock Lake or the Dallas Arboretum. Wear running shoes for both: There's a 9.3-mile trail around White Rock Lane and a 66-acre garden at the Arboretum nearby. Protip: The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at the Arboretum features a play area geared toward toddlers and other interactive educational activities.

Hot spots: You're hungry and thirsty after all that walking, aren't you? Check out 20 Feet Seafood Joint; Hypnotic Donuts (and ice cream shop Hypnotic Emporium next-door); Jimmy's Food Store; Keller's Drive-In.

Where: Head northeast of downtown Dallas, near Garland Road and N. Buckner Boulevard.

Uptown and Victory Park

Tatiana Cuell holds a beer-garita" -- a margarita with a mini Corona in it -- at Katy Trail Ice House in Uptown Dallas.

The scene: Young professionals dominate this vibrant bar and restaurant scene, which is sliced down the middle by McKinney Avenue. Hop on the M-Line for a free ride through the district, with pick-up and drop-off spots every few blocks. And don't miss Klyde Warren Park, the above-the-highway green space that connects Uptown and downtown Dallas. Smaller neighborhood Victory Park, home to sports and concert venue the American Airlines Center, is located at the south end of Uptown. Well-dressed 20-somethings tend to pack restaurants and bars in the evenings in these neighborhoods. And at brunch, too: It's a way of life in Dallas.

Hot spots: West Village for shopping and dining; Shake Shack at the Crescent for a burger; Bread Winners Cafe and Bakery for brunch; Katy Trail Ice House for beer; American Airlines Center for events or sports.

Where: Start at U.S. 75 (Central Expressway) and Lemmon Avenue and move south.

Trinity Groves

Father and son chefs Beto and Julian Rodarte at Beto and Son restaurant in Trinity Groves

The scene: Located at the base of the iconic Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Trinity Groves is a destination for hungry people, with more than a dozen restaurants in a row. (And fun fact: Each restaurant is an "incubator," which means its investors are hoping each of these becomes a successful chain someday.) While you're there, take a jaunt along the Continental bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge parallel to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Hot spots: Italian food at St. Rocco's -- and excellent views of the Dallas skyline from the rooftop patio; burgers at Off-Site Kitchen; Mexican food at Beto & Son; and sweets at Kate Weiser Chocolate and Cake Bar. Don't think you need two doses of dessert? You do.

Where: Trinity Groves is located near 3011 Gulden Lane.

Design District

Art goers mingle and look at art in the Laura Rathe Fine Art gallery on Dragon Street. Art lovers and novices alike trek through the area, exploring the many galleries that have popped up there in about the last 10 years.

The scene: If you're not an artist, you might feel like one in the Design District. The neighborhood is a mix of interior design shops, art galleries, wholesale stores and restaurants.

Hot spots: Meddlesome Moth, a craft beer bar and restaurant; retro bowling alley Bowlounge; and Ascension Coffee (which, eureka!, also sells wine). Texas Ale Project offers tours on Saturdays; dogs and kids are welcome.

Where: Located near Oak Lawn Avenue and Interstate 35E.

Bishop Arts District

Everything is within walking distance along Bishop Avenue in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.

The scene: This charming and artsy area that calls itself "Dallas' most independent neighborhood" is fun for shopping and eating alike. Find a parking spot -- or take the Dallas Streetcar there from downtown Dallas -- and stay awhile. You're likely to find delicious bites and interesting trinkets.

Hot spots: Wild Detectives book store; Italian spot Lucia (reservations required; they're worth it!); Lockhart Smokehouse for barbecue lovers; Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. for cheese lovers.

Where: The Bishop Arts District is in the area around North Bishop Avenue and West Davis Street.

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